Uniti Star's CD player quality vs. separate CD player

I need a streamer and CD player so the Star would satisfy both needs in one box, but is the CD player as good as if I bought a separate one such as the Rega Apollo?

No experience working with the Star but is you use the search feature and type ‘Naim Star’ there are 50+ threads listed. I always found helpful information and lots of opinions on Naim gear when reading through thread discussions.

I imagine the Star would be perfect - I bought a used SuperUniti for around a grand and find it to be superb - an integrated amp, CD player, on board DAC, internet radio and streamer - I use it for streaming Tidal. I have another system with CDX2 which is a higher SQ but I’d be happy if I was forced to exist with ‘only’ the Superuniti - it easily drives a pair of Proac D15’s… I’ve a friend with a Star and he loves it!!

If you want an Apollo move quick, being discontinued but a few available. Great player!

Hi @parksung, why do you want a CD player and a streamer? You’d be duplicating the DAC sections. I’d have thought a pure CD transport such as the Audiolab CDT into your streamer would avoid the duplication.

Also some folk have encountered ripping issues with their Stars. You might want to read some of the threads on this before jumping. A Nova would pair nicely with the Audiolab, if you really want to play rather than rip CDs, at least if that fits within your budget.

Roger

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Thanks @PeakMan , I probably won’t use the ripping function since it sounds wonky.

In your opinion, would streaming the albums I have CDs for with the Star be the same sound quality? If yes, you’re right and I won’t need a CD player. I’m trying to avoid multiple components which is why I thought the Star would work best as an all-in-one.

I actually don’t understand CD transports but if it’s additional component, I think I’ll just use the Star.

I’ve not used a Star so can’t really offer a direct opinion. However, some years ago, I had a 272 preamp/streamer and a CD5XS, which I still have. To my ears the sound quality from playing rips of CDs via the 272 was preferable to playing the CD on the CD player. And this was whether I used the analogue out of the player or the digital output (i.e. using it as a transport). So for me streaming a rip has beaten playing the CD on both sound quality and convenience grounds. But not everyone agrees and in any case it will depend on which CD player is used. Perhaps you could borrow a CD player to experiment with once you have your Star.

Roger

I have ripped my cds to aSSD with my Star. Sometimes I play the disc but usually play from the Ssd ,Also stream music and can’t tell difference between any mode.
Granted my hearing isn’t perfect but it sounds pretty darn good every way.

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In various places, I listen to an Atom, a Nova, an ND5XS2/ Core/ 82/HC/250 and a big pile of other Naim boxes. IMHO…

  1. The Star is not far off the quality of the Nova in streaming and amp, and well above the Atom - so it is pretty good.

  2. On the other hand, ND5XS2 + Nait/ Supernait is audibly better if you don’t mind the lack of a pretty screen or a CD drive or the big volume knob. More delicacy, more grip, more space, more vigour…the usual cliches apply.

  3. A new Star is I think £4K.

An ND5XS2 is £2.5K new and they turn up for just under £2K on eBay. A s/h Nait XS2 is under £1K and a Supernait 1 in the same place is c.£1.2K - £2K gets a SN2. If you do want the ability to play CDs directly, an Audiolab 6000CDT is a CD transport that will feed the ND5XS2 and costs (I think) £400 new.

  1. FWIW, I have tried the CD versus stream test on many CDs and several systems. The best test was NDX2/ XPSDR versus CDS II, via 52/ Supercap/ 300DR and B&W 804 D3s - two good sources.

To my ears and others, there are CDs that sound a bit better than any stream I can find, and there are streams on Tidal that sound fractionally better than my equivalent CD.

For at least 90% of tried CDs, I could hear no difference at all between (say) a HR stream from Qobuz and my CD.

For 100% of CDs tried ever, a version ripped (on a Naim Core in my case) and then streamed from there sounded identical to my ears to the original CD played directly.

When I first got the NDX2, I thought streaming less good than CDs. Getting the XPSDR for the NDX2 disproved that, making the two equal to my ear. Had the CD player been less wonderful than my old CDS II, the NDX2 (even naked) might well have out-performed and thus persuaded me that CD was inferior in sound, but that wouldn’t have been the fault of CD as a medium.

In short, I don’t think poor sound quality from streaming is a problem that should make you keep your CD player if you don’t want to. However, the cost of a good CD transport is low enough that that element probably doesn’t need to be a big part of your decision anyway.

I hope that helps.

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I get it now why a transport is used. My Roksan K3 amp doesn’t have any digital inputs so I guess that defeats the purpose in my situation unless I change my amp.

My goal of getting the Star is to have an amp/streamer/CD player in one component so I’d probably not go the route you suggested though I know it’s probably the more superb sound :neutral_face:

I’m happy with my Star, on the whole, but find that there are issues with ripping to my SSD and CD playing. The app leaves something to be desired in the way of control, as you can only pause CD play, no FF or Rew, only change track.
You can only choose from Play CD, Rip CD or Eject.
Ripped CDs sound great, and replay does allow some FF/Rewind, though, but the filing system is very pedestrian, if you change from, say, Album to Artist, it grinds to a halt.
Album metadata search is strange, as it can’t always find recent or popular albums, so is a bit arbitrary.
However, I’m used to it now, and happy with the sound, whether vinyl, CD. or radio. I can also use the HDMI Arc to listen to TV.
So, happy bunny, really.

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Does the physical remote control Play, Pause, Skip track, back track, fast forward, fast rewind (I don’t know the proper terms but the function where it’ll speed through a song to get to another part, not skip the entire track)?

I bought my Star expecting to be able to play my CD collection and also ripping them into digital files for back up.

But somehow I always encounter some technical issues to rip the CDs.
Finally one day I found somebody sold Core on online shopping (it’s used/pre-loved) and decided to buy that at some 30% off of new price. Long story short, it’s much easier to rip the CDs with Core and play them on my Star by using Core as UPnP server.

Interesting reading guys. I’m still very reluctant to part with my CDS3. But if the Core was to be updated to play as well as rip CDs (for when folks bring a CD or 2 over) I could be tempted.

What Superuniti was it that features a CD player?
Apart from that, I would agree that ripped CDs sound better than the original ones. Like with all others - in my setup, my room, my ears.

Apologies! I meant Naimuniti (not Superuniti)

In some ways, had my Uniti 1 had 70w or 80w of power, I’d probably still have it, as it was a total solution to a one box system, other than a good inbuilt phono amp.
But I’ve grown accustomed to the *“character” of my Star, and it certainly improved the sound of my Doublets.

How would you define the “character” of the Star?

Bearing in mind that my ears are 80 years old, the improvements of the Star over the Uniti are crisper, clearer, better defined percussion sounds, instrument textures are richer, with more information of the instrument, notes are better defined, more realistic, and I feel that I’m hearing more of what was recorded, whether from vinyl (45 singles or 33 LP) or CD.
Also, to me, CDs ripped to my WD My Passport drive often seem to sound better than the original. The ability to quickly chop and change tracks or albums using the app on my Fire is useful.
I feel more emotional involvement in music, whether guitar based rock, orchestral, jazz or bigband, but be careful, it can lead to advanced upradeitis, searching for the perfect sound. :wink:
Of course,those blessed with better hearing may well say that Naim gear can has issues with higher frequencies, but as I can’t hear them it’s not an issue to me, but I’m loving music through my Grado SR325X phones, and the improvement from my Doublet speakers. I haven’t changed anything else in my system, only the Star, so the improvements are down to it alone.
As I wanted a one-box system with CD player, and there aren’t many alternatives it was a simple decision.
And, if it helps, I use the Din input for my phono input, as I felt a slight improvement, but not a huge one.

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Good to know about using DIN for phono. I hadn’t thought of that.

I don’t understand how ripped CDs on an external hard drive sound better than the CD itself in the Star but at least I’ll have a CD player if needed.

I too want a one box solution so am hoping THIS IS IT!